He began singing in English but has long since turned Spanish into his best weapon, and that is because the 20 years that Xoel López (A Coruña, 1977) has been in music have managed to place him as one of the keys to indie in Spain. And although that word does not convince him, if there is something that characterizes him it is his independence: either when composing, when playing or even when answering an interview. A few days ago he spoke with elDiario.es in a calm and calm conversation where he made it clear that his sensitivity goes far beyond music, and that his Galician accent can appear when you least expect it. This Saturday he will be in Cantabria as part of the Torrelavega en Vivo festival, presenting ‘Si mi rayo te limitada’, his fourth solo album as Xoel López and the fifteenth of his career.
Fall for musicians, as with children, should also be a time of change after the hustle and bustle of summer. Are you a fan of summer? Or September fan?
What a good question … [Piensa]. Well, I like changes, when summer comes I take it with a lot of desire, and when the end of summer arrives I already want it to be September and to return to a more stable life. In my case, I already spend a lot of time traveling for my work, and in summer I also try to scratch some gap to have a vacation … But I think there is something that happens to me as it happens to children with the idea of starting the course, and it suits me well. So I do not know how to tell you, as a good Galician I will not answer you clearly [ríe].
Sometimes you make more realistic lyrics and others more fanciful … And deep down, they are all ways of getting to know each other a little better.
He has 15 albums behind him, although ‘Si mi rayo te nosotros’ is the fourth of his solo career. Where do you get the inspiration to write so many songs? Do you live to the fullest?
I watch butt. We all really have things to tell, and life is a lot more complex if you look at it closely. The difference is that I dedicate myself to observing it deeply, to look inside and outside what I feel, what I see around, what I sense, imagine … It can sometimes be a way of understanding you, of knowing better your reality and the from your environment, and at the same time even escape from it. Sometimes you make more realistic letters, and others more abstract and fanciful … And deep down, everything is a way of getting to know yourself a little better. On many occasions in the symbolic, in the fantastic and in what does not seem so palpable or real, you are counting even more.
He has admitted to being a person with an inner world that overflows. Has being such a sensitive person ever overwhelmed you?
When I said about overflowing, I think it has to do with the moment when I took out the book of poems, that I said that I had come to poetry by overflowing. It was a matter of having so many things to write that I ended up making a book with verses because I had to get it out somewhere. Besides, people who dedicate themselves to making songs have a certain sensitivity, but it is true that sometimes it hurts. And precisely, I think that music is what helps me the most to channel it, although I have not chosen it. But on the contrary, music serves me rather to channel it, to understand a little better all that complexity of what it is to live, and to carry it in a healthy way. Without the music there, maybe I would be lost. But yes, we are forced to think, we cannot do our work mechanically, generally. Although there are moments where you are more on the surface, more open and from there the songs also come out, and there are moments where you are a little more technical, for example when we are producing an album. That is what is not seen, but the important thing, the raw material from which the songs come out has to be a little deeper.
He defends that his followers are not a radio formula public … What about radio formulas? Don’t you think that a certain classism has been created in relation to what one hears?
I have always been against classism, and I have never pretended to be classist. Anyone who follows me knows that I have always considered my music for all audiences. But, regardless of that phrase, what I think is that my music can reach anyone. Music should never have borders, you cannot choose who it is directed to. Regarding radio formulas, I think my audience may be a follower of radio formulas, or not, as long as they like a song of mine, it already reaches me. I don’t need it to be an audience that knows more than five or ten artists. In addition, I think that the border between radio formula and music that is not in the mainstream media is something that has also been greatly diluted since the internet appeared. I grew up in a music guild where if you weren’t in the radio, you hardly existed, there was no musical middle class, which now there is, and I celebrate it. I would love to have a song on the radio playing all day.
Along the same lines, what do you consider to be what influences one to have reggaeton or Xoel López as head music?
When I was in Deluxe, the audience was different from now, by generation, by age … But also because my music was different and the audience gave me something else. I remember that time as everything a little more hysterical, noisy … Since I started as Xoel López, everything was more harmonious, calmer … In fact, when people come to comment on something, ask me for a photo or something, I realize that It is very rich, as we say in Galicia. I think that also has to do with what you give them. There is like a kind of reflection of the public of what you mean, expose and give them. But the human being is very complex, there are many ways of being in life, many personalities … And each one also finds his place. I am very open, I like very different things, I can like something very funny that for someone can be even superficial, and at the same time I can like something very deep, dark or complex. I move in all waters in that sense, and my music shows that I don’t focus on just one way of making music.
The last album of course …
It’s very eclectic, yes, but in part I think I always did it because if you take a look at those 15 albums you’re sure to think: “The guy isn’t closed.” So, well … Everyone finds their place. But in addition to that, there is also the exhibition, you can better access someone who sounds on the radio, so there is no equal opportunity really … A very clear example is that of ‘The thorn of the flower on your side’, which it has had more opportunities than others because it came out as the headline of a series. And you notice it because on Spotify it is much higher in terms of listeners … So you also wonder how powerful other songs would have with the same circumstances, but it is what there is. There are many factors, many variables, and they are not necessarily the music or the song itself. Sometimes that song because it has a good promotion, because it falls in grace … They have a star. It happened with ‘Lodo’, a song that rebounded a lot with the pandemic, many people needed it at that time. There are many things that get out of hand, that do not depend on you, and that random part of life is also beautiful.
Independent music is that musical middle class that appears for a little over a decade to come from small festivals, and has been gaining muscle for years
Does Spain support culture? Have you noticed the difference with this Government?
I have not felt support for culture from anyone. I have been a bit independent and a born worker. I do not depend on subsidies and governments are a variable that I do not take into account too much … I am pick and shovel, I have nothing to celebrate or anything to complain about especially. Now, as a clear citizen, I tell you that culture should have more support because it is very important, beyond the numbers. Culture is a must. Music is a necessity far beyond a cache: a song can change your life, get you out of a well … and that is something that society itself has to value.
Are we in a golden age to be indie?
I try not to think in those terms. I do consider myself an independent musician, but the label “indie” has some connotations that escape me, and there is no social agreement as to what it means to be indie. So it is difficult for me to refer in those terms, but I think I understand you. Independent music is that middle class that appears a little over a decade ago comes from small festivals. It is something that thrives, improves and has been gaining muscle for years. Many people who had a small project with an office in Vigo, Madrid or Santander, suddenly you see that they grow, that they have employees … That happened to me, I started with a small project and now it is a fairly large project, with enough people working on it, and it turns into something more professional and serious. I think that music in Spain also improved a lot in terms of media, infrastructure. Musicians are better than before, they take it more seriously. And I think culture is gradually revaluing itself beyond politics, culture itself reinforces itself. It is important to be able to do it yourself, then if support comes, the better, but one no longer has external support a priori.
Today’s musicians are better than before, now they take it more seriously
He argues that, even if he had not been a professional musician, he would continue to compose and play. But, what would you have dedicated your life to if the music hadn’t crossed paths with you?
I don’t know anymore… It’s too many years. I became emancipated at the age of 24, when I began to live on what I earned 100% and I have been living from music for 20 years, I cannot imagine anything else … But since we are going to play that, I would tell you not to It would have mattered to dedicate myself to something that had to do with the hotel industry, I would not have minded working in some rural tourism either. But some contact with people, I would not have locked myself in a job in which I would have had to be alone, although in some way it is also something I do with music [ríe].